Maine Stands with Palestine

On November 6 the Gaza death toll passed 10,000 and U.N. General Secretary Antonio Guterres said Gaza was becoming a “graveyard for children.” Two days later I and nine others occupied the Bangor office of Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s second district.

With a 14-year-old among the 18 killed by a lone gunman on October 25 in Jared Golden’s hometown of Lewiston, Maine, one might think Golden might be sympathetic to the 4,000 children killed so far in Gaza.

One would be wrong.

Instead, Golden’s response to the biggest foreign policy crisis of his four years in Congress was to join 21 other Democrats in voting to censure Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), the only Palestinian-American in Congress, for her statement calling for peace, and lamenting the deaths on both sides of the Israel-Palestine war.

We occupied Golden’s office at 3 p.m. and we refused to leave until Golden agreed to support the congressional resolution of Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. 

We sat on Golden’s floor until the cops came for us at 5 p.m. For two hours we read aloud the names of Gazans killed by Israel, with their ages, from a list provided by the remarkably still-functioning Gazan Health Ministry.

And their ages ran the gamut. You don’t want to know.

For two hours we told stories from our decades-long fight against aggression by the U.S. and its purported allies, going back to the U.S. war on the people of Southeast Asia that claimed 4-10 million Southeast Asian lives. We read the Tlaib statement that so offended Golden. Two of us had been to the West Bank, and they told of Palestinians being killed, houses being razed, olive trees being destroyed by Israeli bulldozers, and the indignity of heavily armed and dehumanizing checkpoints everywhere. And we worked the Maine media, by text and email.

When five o’clock came, the armed and body-cammed cops outnumbered us eight to seven. The cops marched us out of Golden’s office building to an oversized van that looked armored – in Bangor, Maine. 

There was a handful of supporters outside the building, standing in the all-too-early darkness of November in Maine. But there was no media. Our efforts to tell our fellow Mainers that not all their compatriots agreed with Jared Golden’s selective humanity seemed to be failing. We seemed to be yelling down an empty canyon. 

We rode in our fortified van to the cinderblock Bangor Police Department bunker, where angry, unhappy working-class cops worked out their shifts under harsh florescent lights that frayed our nerves in less than four hours. Empire chews up and spits out friend and foe alike.

I had been arrested 6-8 times, but I had never seen the likes of the high-tech refrigerator-sized fingerprint machine the cops used to collect fingerprints, an identification tool so unreliable it’s not even accepted in court. 

When Jamila and I were finally released and we started our one-hour drive back to coastal Belfast, I was fraught with gloom over our failure to attract media attention. But as the miles rolled by, my phone started lighting up. The Bangor Daily News, the biggest paper in Golden’s district, called. A smattering of texts popped up. My mood lifted, and it continued to rise over the next two days, as Maine’s media woke up to our action. And much of the coverage was surprisingly positive, in a mostly rural media landscape unaccustomed to questioning the imperatives of empire. Israel’s iron grip on Maine’s mainstream media was cracking before our eyes, as it is around the country.

As I wrote in my first Counterpunch piece 20 years ago, I attended my first Vietnam War protest in 1963 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. There were six of us. Me, my two brothers, my mother and two others. Six long, lethal years later, I attended the November 1969 Vietnam War protest that drew 500,000 to Washington. Movements don’t sprout overnight, and seven arrested in Bangor isn’t a bad start. 

And another five were arrested in Maine first-district Rep. Chellie Pingree’s Portland office November 3, five days before we occupied Golden’s office. And tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands, marched on Washington on November 4, only 28 days after Israel started its indiscriminate bombing of Gaza on October 7. 

And more protesters went to Jared Golden’s office the day after we did, ready to occupy it again. But the lights were out, and the door was locked. No one was home. Only 33 days into Israel’s war on Gaza and already Congress was hiding from its own constituents. It reminded me of Nixon turning bright lights toward the White House in November 1969 so he couldn’t see the 500,000 people demanding an end to his war crimes.

Jared Golden might cower in the dark, but we won’t. We can stop the massacre of Palestinian men, women and children. We can stop the madness. We did it before. We can do it again.

BREAKING: Protesters occupy Jared Golden’s Lewiston office November 13.

Join us.


Lawrence Reichard lives in Belfast, Maine, and can be reached at